What food and luxury foods were known in Byzantium a millennium ago, and what new ones had arrived from Arabia and India? And what did people actually eat and drink? What effect was attributed to peas, crabs, carrots, radishes and saffron (correct - they were all considered aphrodisiacs), but what effect was attributed to cabbage, parsley and goat meat (correct again - they were all said to be anti-drunkenness)? For a Byzantine emperor, Symeon Seth wrote a compilation of foods and stimulants, which is sorted alphabetically, from alpha to omega.
The work offers a fascinating insight into the everyday world in Byzantium: it is about bread and butter, water and wine, vinegar and oil, milk and honey, salt and pepper, apples and pears, fish and meat, but also about lobster and caviar and about musk and hashish. The author introduces each food and explains what effects it has on the body. The aim of the work is to help his readers stay in good health through proper nutrition. In a bilingual edition, Kai Brodersen now makes the text accessible to a contemporary readership for the first time.